Pak spearhead Akhtar ruled out of final Test

Published: Wednesday, August 16, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar has been ruled out of the fourth and final Test against England, coach Bob Woolmer said yesterday.

The 31-year-old missed the first three matches because of an ankle injury as England took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series but was hopeful of returning for Thursday's game at the Oval.

Akhtar bowled in the nets yesterday along with fellow fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, who seem to be in line for recalls after recovering from elbow and groin injuries respectively.

''They (Asif and Rana) have to be in contention,'' Woolmer was quoted as saying on the England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) official website. ''The way they bowled today was very encouraging.

''As a selection committee we will assess the situation but Shoaib will not play.'' Woolmer acknowledged it would be a risk to play Asif and Rana after lengthy absences.

''It certainly would be a gamble,'' he said. ''It would be a difficult thing to do as they have not bowled for a month.'' Salman Butt and Taufeeq Umar, who opened the batting in the third Test defeat at Headingley, have been sent home.

Mohammad Hafeez, who also bowls off spin, will win his fourth cap when he opens with Imran Farhat at the Oval.

''We thought we would give Hafeez a run-out,'' said Woolmer. ''He is a useful guy to use as a fifth bowler.''

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